16 Thoughts For Sweet ’16

  1. Sorry, but I don’t get excited about ramen.
  2. Since many recent openings in St. Louis have been either pizza or barbecue joints, please note you can combine the two with the Pulled Piggy Pizza from PW Pizza. It is delicious. (Pictured with slaw atop the pulled pork and sauce.) Pulled piggy pizza
  3. We are blessed to have a wide choice of grocers in my neck of suburbia: Schnucks, Dierbergs, Shop’n’Save, of course. Also, Lucky’s, Fresh Thyme, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Global Foods, Sam’s Club, Costco, Walmart, Target. Still haven’t made it to Aldi.
  4. Want to be happier in 2016? Eat more avocados.
  5. I like this memorable quote from Tom Colicchio (pictured below) in last Saturday’s Wall Street Journal: “Calories are cheap. Nutrition is expensive.”Colicchio
  6. Even if you’re a Starbucks hater, you have to admit that their national presence over the past two decades has helped “raise all boats.” Almost every place that sells coffee has improved their product.
  7. Chain restaurants are not inherently bad. I can name chains in St. Louis whose quality varies from pretty good to abysmal, from location to location. In most cases, the reason is good or bad management.
  8. Is it okay for a restaurant to brag about using local vendors whenever possible… via a release from an out-of-town PR firm?
  9. Sweet and savory do not always go together well, but when the combination works, the results can be pretty amazing.
  10. I’m not a fan of the “best nine” tic-tac-toe format on Instagram. Most of the nine tiny pics are too small. (Or maybe it’s time for me to get a new phone with a bigger screen.)
  11. The crew at a local Breadco did not know what to do last month when I ordered a mocha and asked them to stamp my 90s era Cappuccino Club card.
  12. I enjoy Urban Chestnut beers but the 500 milliliter bottle size (just over 16 ounces) can be confounding. Sometimes one is not enough but two are too many.
  13. How many waiters have their own business cards? Our server at Fleming’s last week included his card in the check holder. Nice touch.
  14. If you’re thinking about going paleo or trying Whole 30, you should know that cauliflower makes a great rice substitute and sweet potatoes are wonderful.
  15. Recommended book: A Year In Provence (1989) by Peter Mayle. Among the joys he and his wife experience are numerous eating and drinking occasions. Loved the book. When I read it last spring, I laughed out loud many times.
  16. My favorite meal of 2015 was at Singleton’s Seafood Shack in Jacksonville, Florida, on the banks of the St. John’s River. Fried fish, fried dill pickles, a cold Bud Light and memories of the years we lived in the Big J.

I wish you and your family a Sweet (and Savory) ’16! Roll Tide!

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Beer, Glorious Beer!

The Centennial Beer Festival happens this weekend at Moulin Events and the Malt House Cellar at 2017 Chouteau in St. Louis. Sadly, I’ll be out of town and will miss the fun.

If you’re going, my advice is to take lots of pics with your phone of the beers you taste. Later, after you’ve sampled dozens of beers, you’ll better be able to recall more than just a handful of standouts.

During the last 12 months, I have drunk less beer than in other recent times, but I have enjoyed the beer I did drink quite a bit more. Here are a few fave beers from my Instagram account. (If I hadn’t taken these pics, I might’ve forgotten a few.)

First, Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan…

Lazy Mag

Lazy Magnolia is brewed in Kiln, Mississippi. I enjoyed this tasty brew at Jim ‘n’ Nick’s BBQ in Birmingham last fall. This beer is not, to the best of my knowledge, available in St. Louis city or county, but is available throughout Jefferson County, Missouri.

Next up, Left Hand Good Juju…

GoodJuju

This beer was served at The Shack in Valley Park. It has a bit of ginger flavor. Left Hand comes from Denver.

Oktoberfest #1—Schlafly…

Schlafly OKT

Loved this beer! Drank it at the Wing Ding at Queeny Park in August, then enjoyed it at the Bottleworks in Maplewood in September.

Oktoberfest #2—Goose Island…

Goose OKt Biergarten

 

Another delicious fall brew. This one from Goose was poured at the Biergarten at the A-B brewery. I also enjoyed this brew at VB’s Chocolate Bar in Cottleville this fall.

From my hometown of Birmingham comes Good People Coffee Oatmeal Stout…

Good People Coffee Oatmeal

Had this at Saw’s Juke Joint in Birmingham. It brings a ton of flavor but doesn’t overdo it (like some stouts do).

From Nashville comes Yuengling lager…

Yuengling

Had this one with my pulled pork at Saw’s BBQ in Homewood, AL. Not my favorite, although I know many who love this brew.

Another favorite from Left Hand, their Milk Stout…

Left Hand MS

I still recall my first LHMS, poured at the recently closed Plush at a Pecha Kucha night in 2012. I’ve enjoyed it at home and at bars and restaurants every since. I like the foamy head! I turned my cousin Randy on to this one at last year’s Centennial Beer Festival but he did not love it.

My favorite Urban Chestnut brew…

Schnickelfritz

This is Schnickelfritz. I had it at the newer Urban Chestnut location in The Grove last summer and just last week at the 21st Street Brewer’s Bar. Hard for me to describe, except to say that it tastes really good!

Here’s one you may have never heard of…

Phin and Matt's

As you can tell from the frosty glass, Phin and Matt’s Extraordinary Ale was enjoyed at PW Pizza (in the same building where the Beer Fest is held). Brewed by Southern Tier in Lakewood, NY.

The old standby…

Pale ale

For many of us in St. Louis, Schafly Pale Ale was our gateway craft beer. I had Sam Adams earlier, but Schlafly Pale Ale had more going on than did the early Boston brew. This cup was enjoyed on a warm spring day at Paddy O’s, just south of Busch Stadium.

And a new favorite…

Honkers

Goose Island Honker’s Ale is now, following Goose’s takeover by A-B/InBev in 2011, available in more places than before. Less bitter than Schlafly Pale Ale and great with a burger.

From Italy…

Menabrea

At Acero in Maplewood, more people order wine from the Piedmont region of Italy. (As do I much of the time.) But I really like this Menabrea brew from the city of Biella.

Like Belgian beer?

Mikkeller

This Mikkeller was among a mixed six-pack I got at the new Craft Beer Cellar store on Maryland Avenue in Clayton. I liked it but doubt that it’ll enter my regular rotation.

From back in the day…

Stag

Yep, had a Stag at a gathering at Spoke Marketing on Locust back in the summer. Hey, after a round of salty snacks, it hit the spot.

Another local brew…

Marzen Kirkwood

From Dave and the crew at Kirkwood Station, their delicious Marzen beer.

And from a year ago at the Beer Fest…

Jah-Va

Another from Southern Tier in Lakewood, NY. Their Jah-Va Coffee Stout.

If these beer pics made you thirsty and/or curious, you’ll want to hit the Centennial Beer Festival this weekend. Sessions are set for Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night. Click HERE for a link to all the info.

As the Dos Equis guy says, “Stay thirsty, my friends!”

—–David Craig

By the way, I invite you to follow me on Instagram at @davidcraigstl. Not just beer, but also food, animals (including humans) and outdoor scenery.

Kaldi’s Coffee Dinner at the Ritz

Many restaurants have spectacular wine dinners. Some offer intriguing beer dinners. We’ve even seen the occasional whiskey dinner recently. Now, here comes a Spring Coffee Dinner at the Ritz-Carlton on Saturday, May 17.

Ritz

The meal will feature Kaldi’s coffees in each course. Menu items include coffee-glazed pork belly, coffee-rubbed beef tenderloin, halibut sauced with coffee beurre blanc and coffee créme brulée. Click HERE for the complete menu.

Kaldi

Paired coffee cocktails and Urban Chestnut beers will accompany the meal.

Cost is $150/person plus tax and tip. A portion of the evening’s proceeds will go to the Ronald McDonald House. For reservations, call the Ritz at 314-719-1433.

The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis is located at 100 Carondelet Plaza in Clayton.